The Portuguese microalgae player said heterotrophic fermentation is quicker and reaches higher cell concentration, making it more cost-effective and ossible to produce greater output volumes.
Production of the species Chlorella vulgaris has already begun via the novel fermentation method - with plans to add more species to its list, said the firm.
The technology was established through the Fermalg project, a research project co-founded by P2020, in conjunction with the Portuguese private non-profit research organisation Instiuto de Biologia Experimental e Technológica (iBET).
According to Sofia Hoffmann de Mendonca, business development manager at Allmicroalgae Natural Products S.A, the Fermalg project’s aim “consisted of the development of the fermentation technology, in order to obtain an inoculum with extreme high quality; this inoculum would then be used for further scale up in autotrophic conditions”.
Allmicroalgae’s fermentation volume is currently at 5000 L per batch, but the producer has said there is a possibility to double this capacity.
The Portuguese producer also said the fermentation process is crucial for producing a product rich in omega-4 DHA + EPA.
The fermented microalgae can be used in human food, dietary supplements, feed and cosmetics.
Hoffmann de Mendonca explained to NutraIngredients there are many benefits to using the fermentation process.
“The fermentation process allows us to reach the following goals: the reduction of the production process in terms of production time (algae may grow 3 times faster via fermentation, comparatively to the phototrophic pathway), the higher nutrient consistency of the final product, meaning the microalgae biochemical composition and also the possibility to produce different species which, through the fermentation process, may cumulate higher concentrations of specific high value compounds, such as the Omega 3 fatty acids”.
The company produces its microalgae at Algafarm, its production facility in Leiria, Portugal.
At Algafarm, the company uses phototrophic production with photobioreactors, heterotrophic production with the fermenters and the combination of both fermentation and photosynthesis.
Allmicroalgae are using the perfected fermentation process developed by Fermalg, which uses sugar.
“It involves the existence of a sugar source and of an axenic medium (cultivation without the presence of any other microorganisms in the fermentation vessels). The production is made in highly controlled conditions, until a (specific) high cell density is reached. At Algafarm, we work with 200L and 5000L vessels,” explained Hoffmann de Mendonca.
Source of essential nutrients
Due to being rich in essential nutrients, microalgae have a wide range of health benefits, including promoting the maintenance and function of vital metabolic processes.
Some microalgae species, including Chlorella vulgaris, are also rich is essential fatty acids, as well as vitamins and trace minerals.
“The positive side is that, being an excellent source of the above mentioned nutrients, and being presented as fresh / dried biomass, or as extracts, microalgae are extremely versatile, and are also more sustainable than other animal or even vegetable raw materials, since their productivity is much higher.”
Allmicroalgae say the expansion of the production capacity will allow it to develop new markets and applications, which require a larger industrial scale supply of raw materials.
The expansion of the production volume will also allow the producer to become more competitive, in regards to price.